Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birchbox One Year Subscription + $25 credit for about $80 (or less)

Disclosure: This post contains referral links.
This deal will only work for people who haven't had Birchbox for the last 3 month and/or are new to Gilt City. They have a deal for a one year Birchbox subscription and $25 in credits for the Birchbox store for $99 ($135 value) (click on the "National" category to find it). But if you sign up for Gilt City using an invite link (here's mine) you'll get 25% off your first order. If you already have a Gilt account, but have never bought from Gilt City, you can use the code welcome20 to get 20% off your order. You can also get an extra 4% cash back using Ebates.

According to my calculations, this makes Birchbox about $6.50 a month, depending which code you use, instead of the usual $10 you would pay if you were doing it on a monthly basis. Plus you get all those credits.

Ugh, this is really tempting. I was planning to drop Ipsy (getting bored with it) in favor of Birchbox in September once I'm working full time again (I got a job!). But this deal ends July 28. Is that money worth more to me now or later?

Monday, July 21, 2014

A bunch of Paula's Choice reviews

Disclosure: This post contains referral and Amazon affiliate links.
I've been very lucky during the past few months of my unemployment that I was able to keep using my regular Paula's Choice routine, even though the products are not particularly cheap. That's because lots of people signed up through my invite link, and I really, really appreciate that. As a result, I've been able to replace the things I was already using when they ran out, as well as try a few new things. In return, I figured I should at least review some of the Paula's Choice (PC hereafter) products I've used. (I'm also hoping to do a PC giveaway sometime in the future as further thanks, but that will have to wait until I can swing the shipping costs.)

This week also seems like a good time for this post, since PC has a 15% off everything + free shipping on all orders sale going on (use code EDDVIPJUL14).

I've been using a few PC products for almost a decade now. I found out about Paula Begoun via a Canadian TV show called The Shopping Bags, which was almost like a shopping/consumer review blog in TV format, before there were blogs (it's still on TV somewhere in Canada, I think).  Paula was one of their regular consultants on makeup, skin, and hair care. I even owned one of her enormous books at one point. At the time, there weren't really many other sources of the kinds of information she provides, especially in terms of evaluating the marketing claims made by cosmetics companies. Now there are more options, but I still use the ingredients dictionary on the PC website all the time, because it's really comprehensive and easy to use.

Paula herself is a bit of a polarizing figure. She can be a little dogmatic and extreme at times. For instance, she used to insist that no one, no matter who they were, should ever wear any color of eye makeup other than neutrals and maybe, if you wanted to get a little crazy, plum. No shimmer, either. I get that it was a reaction against the frosty blue eyeshadows of the 80s, but come on (she's slackened only slightly on that point since then). There's more to life than matte neutrals. Because she was one of the first to do what she does, she can come across as a bit self important, too. In one of her radio shows from this year, she complained that she's seen other people online repeating information about cosmetics that originated with her. Well, do you want to inform people, or not?

These days, I'm a little more critical about the PC proclamations. I don't like fragrance in my skin care either, and I'd rather err on the side of caution for ingredients that cause irritation, but I think the their NO FRAGRANCE EVER OH MY GOD YOU'RE GOING TO BECOME A HAG IF YOU USE SOMETHING SMELLY stance is a bit much. Give me all the scented body lotion and lip balm! I also don't rely heavily on Beautypedia's ratings of makeup, because they often hinge on one or two details that have little to do with the actual performance of the product (I'll write something more about that another day). Today, PC/Beautypedia is one of many sources of information I consult.

All that said, I have had really, really good luck with the majority of the PC brand products I've tried. I get that they are trying to sell me shit just like every other company, but I appreciate their accessibility and transparency about why they formulated things the way they did and why they think the ingredients will be effective. That's still pretty rare. It's a brand I personally like, even though it's not the cheapest. They do have a lot of sales, at least.

Below are reviews of several PC products I've used, and I've indicated roughly how long I've been using them, in case that's useful information. I didn't bother to take photos of the packages, because I didn't think that would be particularly helpful (and a little too advertorial for a post like this). So this is a text heavy post. You might want to grab a cup of coffee before you read on (or spread it out over three days because, let's face it, after writing all that I'm going to need some time off). I'm not going to go into detail about the ingredients, because all of that information is available on the PC website, so I won't repeat it here.


Comparison of three Paula's Choice Moisturizers (left to right): Skin Balancing Moisture Gel, Hydralight Moisture Infusing Lotion, and Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer
Comparison of three Paula's Choice Moisturizers (left to right): Skin Balancing Moisture Gel, Hydralight Moisture Infusing Lotion, and Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer 
Skin Balancing Moisture Gel: I've been using this stuff the longest of anything from PC: at least 8 years, maybe 10. I absolutely love it. It's an ideal moisturizer for oily/combination skin like mine. It's a really light gel that soaks in quickly and leaves absolutely no greasiness or shine. It feels really refreshing. I've described it as a "drink of water for your face" to my boyfriend (though he continues to use his generic Lubriderm knockoff).

The downside of this particular moisturizer is that it burns if I apply it anywhere near my eyes. It's annoying. I can see from reviews that this doesn't happen with most people who use it, but apparently there's something in it that my eyes hate. If I want to moisturize the eye area, I have to pick something else. This gel is my usual daytime moisturizer, nevertheless. I put it on when I get out of the shower and it leaves my skin soft and gets rid of whatever tightness was caused by the heat and water.

It's not cheap ($24), but I've continued using it because I haven't been able to find a comparable gel moisturizer at a more affordable price. The only ones I'd encountered until recently were more expensive, packaged in a jar, and/or highly fragranced. I came across this Simple brand gel moisturizer a few weeks ago, though, so I might try it when I run out of the PC. (Has anyone else used it?)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All about parabens (from Of Faces and Fingers)

This is a spectacularly useful post about the function and safety of parabens in cosmetics, in which the author collects information from a variety of sources and evaluates the reliability of those sources. For example, she provides a nice critique of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is the source of many of the OMG TOXIC POISON CANCER scares that come up in relation to makeup and skin care ingredients.

Here is a summary of the post's conclusions, but I highly recommend reading the entire thing. It's fascinating and informative.
So to sum up - my conclusion is based on several key points I've touched on over the 4 headings:

1. The bulk of scientific data shows that parabens are safe, and they are determined to be safe for us in almost all jurisdictions.  2. The scientific literature that fuelled the anti-paraben movement can't prove causation, and in any case the authors themselves say that they can't draw a link and further study is needed.  3. Your body breaks down parabens applied topically through urine and bile.  4. Parabens are used in tiny concentrations at less than 1% in cosmetics and skincare  5. Paraben alternatives are not necessarily safer, or more effective.  6. Parabens are broken down naturally in our environment.
I just really love smart, critical writing about cosmetics.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The easiest DIY reusable cotton makeup pads ever

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I'm not a huge DIY person in that I don't DIY (DIM?) just for the hell of it. For the most part, I'm only going to make my own shit if it is cheaper (or, potentially, better) than something I can buy and if it's not going to be a huge, complicated chore. I respect people who make stuff all the time for the fun of it or to be less wasteful, but I need things to be cheap and easy at this stage in my life. Fortunately, this project hits all the buttons (is that a real expression? more whiskey): it's very cheap; it takes less than half an hour to complete; there is next to no skill required; and it's eco-friendly.

easiest DIY reusable cotton makeup pads ever
I also made this beautiful jar that I use to store these beautiful creations.
In a weird but not particularly exciting coincidence, about half an hour after realizing that I was out of cotton balls, I came across this Into the Gloss post about reusable makeup pads. Obviously a good idea, but that shit costs $22 for a pack of 8 ($2.75 a piece). A number of sellers on Etsy offer them for a more reasonable price, or you can make your own with a couple of bucks and a few minutes of your time.

This is not a detailed tutorial. The steps are essentially: (1) find cloth; and (2) cut cloth. You'll need to use a nice, soft, absorbent fabric, probably cotton. If you have an old flannel shirt or sheet that you're not going to use again, that'll work. If not, I recommend getting some flannel that is meant for babies, because it'll be extra soft. I suggest checking out the remnants section of the fabric store, because you only need a small piece, and you can get it very cheap that way. I paid less than $2 for the piece of flannel that I used, which was probably about 2.5' x 1.5' originally. I actual bought it around a year and a half ago to make a gift for a friend's baby. It's printed all over with the word baby in white, but, as you can probably see in the photo above, once I washed it the design pretty much disappeared, so I abandoned that project. It's perfect for this purpose, as it turns out.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Not convinced

I know I said I was going to post something more substantial, and I'm working on it, but in the meantime how about something ridiculous? Look at this Aveeno ad featuring some kind of photoshopped Frankenstein monster with Jennifer Aniston's face. It's on the back cover of an Allure magazine I have, not even hidden subtly somewhere in the middle of the magazine like an abomination of this sort should have been. I'd hazard a bet that that is not Aniston's actual body. HER HEAD IS THE SAME HEIGHT AS HER ENTIRE TORSO. And the hair doesn't appear to belong to the same person, either, which is not ideal when you're dealing with a celebrity who is known for her hair. The fingers are freaky, and whoever this is was clearly not actually sitting on that cushion - either that or she is made of colorful air - because there is no indentation in it. Are the digital photo people not even trying anymore? Are they severely underpaid and overworked? I don't get it.

So if this is what happens to you when you rub that lotion on yourself, I think I'll pass.

Nordstrom 16-Piece Beauty Bag $25 on Hautelook today

Disclosure: This post contains referral links.
Oh, hi, here I am. And it's a HauteLook post. Sorry. I fully intend to post something more substantial later today, but I've been trying to be productive in the rest of my life and all that crap. Anyway, I've heard some people are excited about this bag full of goodies, so I thought I'd post it in case you might be one of them. Brands in the bag include Stila, LORAC, Fresh, Smashbox, Philosophy, Lancome, Clinique, Mario Badescu, etc. and you get 15 items plus the bag itself. There's also a Diptyque sale on HL right now, in case you want to add some absurdly fancy candles or perfume to your order.

Shipping should be about $6, and usually takes a week or two from HauteLook. Either this bag will sell out in a matter of hours, or it will be back for half price a month from now. It's always a bit of a gamble.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

You're sciencing wrong: Sunscreen does not cause cancer (from I Fucking Love Science)

You might have seen an article going around Facebook and other places claiming that a recent major study has shown that wearing sunscreen can give you cancer. You might have been thinking, "Oh shit." Calm yourself. I had a moment of apprehension myself, before I took a closer look. (Or you might have been thinking from the beginning, "That's bullshit," in which case, yes, very good, you're very smart and special.)

This post from I Fucking Love Science (brilliant blog name, obviously) debunks the scaremongering anti-sunscreen bullshit. There's lots of good stuff in there, but this is one of the most important parts, I think:
"The claim that more people who use sunscreen develop melanoma is based on a study that tracked sun exposure and sunscreen use in nearly 1500 people over a span of two years. The results did show that those who used sunscreen were more likely to develop melanoma, but there was a massive caveat left out of RF’s article. The median sun protection factor (SPF) was 6 (the CDC recommends SPF 15 or higher) and those who used sunscreen the most spent considerably more time in the sun than those who rarely use sunscreen.
RF’s implication that sunscreen is causing the melanoma is dead wrong; the paper itself states “sunscreen use, by permitting more time sunbathing, is associated with melanoma occurrence,” particularly when using sunscreen with a low SPF that isn’t as protective." 
Correlation is not causation and all that. People wore low SPF sunscreen, felt like that meant they could sunbathe longer, and ended up with melanoma. The sunscreen did not cause the melanoma. Sigh. It's a typical misreading of what some scientific study actually says.

Yes, you need Vitamin D. You can get that from the sun. You can also get it in your diet. If you want to get it from the sun, you don't need to spend a ton of time baking to get what you need. The epidemiologist in this article says that pale people (like me) only need a few minutes of sun exposure a day, tan/medium skin tones could use 15-20 minutes, and people with dark skin tones need quite a bit more, maybe 6 times as much as the pale people (6 x "a few" = 18 to 24 minutes?). It all depends on how much clothing you're wearing, what time of day it is, etc. Still, that does not mean never wear sunscreen. I mean, if you don't want to, it's your call. Not everyone has the same risk for skin cancer, and not everyone cares about their skin showing the ominous "signs of aging", and that's cool. But don't avoid sunscreen because you think it's cancerous. Personally, I always wear it on my face and neck, because if I'm going to be pasty anyway, I might as well try to avoid skin damage. But I don't wear it on other parts of my body on a regular basis - only when I'm going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes at a time. I'll get my Vitamin D walking to the market or whatever.

Anyway, you're all smart people and you didn't need me to tell you all this, but sometimes it's nice to have a link like this IFLS one to paste into the comments of your annoying cousin's Facebook status about how he's been right all along not to wear sunscreen because all the rest of you are going to get cancer and he's not, see? SHEEPLE.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Two drugstore stain glosses: Wet N Wild Fergie Vicious Varnish High Shine Lip Stain in Flawless and Milani Power Lip Lasting & Moisturizing Gloss Stain in Cabernet Blend

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.
It's been a while. Oops. In the meantime, I managed to get a part time job, so I'm at least nominally employed. And my cat got sick again, which makes that about the 500th time in the last year. She's fine now, but I think that if she decides she needs any additional medical care, she's going to have to get a job and stop mooching off of me.

There have been other distractions, but let's just get back to the damned makeup, shall we?

I got both of these stain-gloss things a few months ago at about the same time, so it makes sense to me to review them together.

Wet N Wild Fergie Vicious Varnish High Shine Lip Stain in Flawless and Milani Power Lip Lasting & Moisturizing Gloss Stain in Cabernet Blend
Wet N Wild Fergie Vicious Varnish High Shine Lip Stain in Flawless and Milani Power Lip Lasting & Moisturizing Gloss Stain in Cabernet Blend
Let's start with Wet N Wild Fergie Vicious Varnish High Shine Lip Stain in Flawless ($3.50). One thing both of these products have in common is long fucking names. The Wet N Wild stuff has a really interesting, slippery, and almost gelatinous texture. Sounds nice, right? Ha. Well, the closest thing I have to it is a L'Oreal Colour Caresse Wet Shine Stain (review here), which makes sense, since that's also a stain-gloss. The L'Oreal's texture is a little stickier, though. I've never used anything quite like this Wet N Wild stain. I do like how it feels, but it might take getting used to for some people. It's packaged in your typical gloss tube with a particularly long and flexible doe foot applicator.

Wet N Wild Fergie Vicious Varnish High Shine Lip Stain in Flawless
Wet N Wild Fergie Vicious Varnish High Shine Lip Stain in Flawless

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

50% off all orders over $35 from e.l.f.

Use code OHYEAH. This is the best way to buy e.l.f., in my opinion: i.e. for half price. Mind you, you have to buy a lot of stuff to get up to $70 worth! Combine orders with a friend or two, maybe?

I actually have a small wish list of e.l.f. things I'd like to try, but I'm not going to get anything this time around, since that would counter my current efforts to downsize.

Too bad they changed things so you need to use a code to get the $35+ free shipping, and you can only use one code per order. Boo. You can also get 4.5% cash back from Ebates (invite link), though.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I don't usually do FOTD (face of the day) posts, because no1curr. My daily makeup is not that exciting and certainly not dramatic enough to really show up in photos. But I thought I'd post this phone selfie that I took yesterday, since I'm happy with the way it turned out. I used a technique I read about here on BeautyGeeks for making eyes look bigger.

I really can't do smoky eye looks with dark shadow all the way around unless I want my eyes to look extra tiny. This, however, is an easy trick, in which you use two shadow shades and blend them horizontally to extend your eyes a bit. You can watch/read all about it at the above link. I never really blend my eyeshadow beyond the outside edges of my eyes, because I always thought it would look weird, but turns out it's not crazy looking. Excellent.

I've listed the products I used below the photo, but I'll note that I tried this again today with a dark beige and medium brown shade, and it created a more subtle, completely work appropriate version. This trick does actually seem to enlarge my eyes, despite the best efforts of my coke-bottle glasses to shrink them (I really need to get some higher index lenses). Eye makeup photos with glasses are not the most illustrative, I know, but that's what I'm working with here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

CoverGirl makeup for $2-4 on Amazon (and $3 Cetaphil coupon)

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
For example, Clump Crusher mascara for $3 when you "clip" the coupon that page (or $2.70 if you do subscribe and save, which you can cancel later). Most of the products with coupons are mascara or foundation - here's the full list. I kind of want to try the Outlast 3-in-1 foundation, since I've heard it's good. Thoughts? Only one coupon per account, I believe.

There's also a $3 Cetaphil coupon here.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Blog sale is live

I posted recently about my attempts to thin my hoard of makeup and nail polish. I have now completed the first step (sorting) and second step (posting blog sale). I figured I'd do a new blog sale here in case anyone is interested in adopting any of these things (think of them as sparkly kittens who won't shit in your house?). Check it out if you think you might want to buy something (prices of even brand new items are well below retail), or if you would just like to gawk at how much stuff I'm getting rid of. Voyeurism always welcome. Note: there are lots of photos on that page!

There are some things that I haven't had a chance to photograph yet, so don't miss the list of them toward the bottom of the page. I also haven't photographed any of the free things yet, but they are listed there as well. I'll update once I get more photos up, but if you want to see anything in the meantime, feel free to send me a message.

Friday, July 4, 2014

More sales

Disclosure: This post contains no affiliate links.
Free shipping (today only) on all orders from J. Crew Factory + 40-60% off everything + extra 40% off clearance with code SALE40. Also free shipping from Paula's Choice this weekend + 25% off cleansers and toners (link on the right side of the page for an extra $10 off PC). Use code EDDFOURTH14.

Celebrate America with some consumerism! (Scroll through some earlier posts for other things that are still happening, if you want more.)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Sales and stuff

Disclosure: This post contains referral links.
Well, it's a holiday here in America, and that means things go on sale. On HauteLook, we have a "Beauty Essentials" sale that includes a lot of makeup brushes, some Tweezerman tweezers, and a bunch of things that are decidedly not essential, like bra carrying cases that looks like bras (?), and those needle roller things for your face (heeeelllllllll no).

In less terrifying news, the Home Shopping Network has a $20 off code for new customers. I've never bought anything from HSN, so I can't say much about what it's like, but this deal was recommended to me by Dayana in an email, and I've heard about it elsewhere too. There are some interesting looking Too Faced sets on HSN that you could use it with. I'm not sure what the limits of the code are, but, for example, the Natural Eye Collection (comes with a primer) is on for $30 with free shipping, so if you use the code 20NEWSPRING, you might be able to get it for $10. Let me know if you try it. For some reason I can't get the HSN cart to load so I can test it out. My internet is being fucky this morning.

There are lots of other sales, and if anything in particular stands out to me, I'll post about it. For now, let me direct you to Nouveau Cheap's always useful sale roundup.

Have a nice Fourth of July weekend, Americans! Others, too, but with less patriotism and fireworks, probably.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My DIY makeup storage desk (cheap, good for small spaces, and not at all Pinterest pretty)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

I have no problem at all with color-coordinated storage solutions or beautifully arranged and decorated vanities. I enjoy being in an aesthetically pleasing space, and I would do that all the time if I could, because it does something positive for my state of mind. I just don't happen to have those things right now. Instead, I have a practical hodgepodge of things that I use to store my makeup - and I love it. I think that this makeup desk, though simple, is one of the best ideas I've ever come up with. (Let's not explore what that says about the calibre of my ideas in general.) It's super functional and cost me almost nothing. Someday I'll probably get something prettier, but this works really fucking well for now.

So obviously this is not meant to be Pinterest-style decorating inspiration (though I will probably pin it). Instead, I thought I'd show you what I came up with to work in the tiny space I'm living in, using mostly materials I already had. It might help you come up with some ideas yourself - or, if not, you can be all, "Ugh, why would you post photos of that crap online? No one wants to look at that." That's fun too. You can even click on the photos to enlarge them if you want to judge more thoroughly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Too Faced is on HauteLook starting at $6 (up to 70% off)

Eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, glosses, etc. I don't actually own anything from Too Faced other than the lip primer (which is great but not included in this sale). I know they're popular and expensive, though, so they must be good? Or something? Anyway, 60-70% off is definitely not bad.

The thing with HauteLook is that it can take a couple of weeks to ship, and shipping is about $6. You also need an account to browse, so here is my invite link, in case you want to use it.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A not-terrible $3 brown liquid liner: Jordana INCOLOR Fabuliner Liquid Eyeliner Pen

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.
I always intend to write really concise reviews for products I don't feel particularly strongly about, but then my rambly nature takes over and I go on and on anyway. For real this time, I'm going to make this quick. FOR REAL THIS TIME.

The Jordana INCOLOR Fabuliner Liquid Eyeliner Pen is a felt tip eyeliner. It's like a sharpie for your face. Previously, I wrote about a couple of other brown liquid liners that were cheap ($3) and sucked. One objectively sucked, and the other I just wasn't into. So I got another cheap option to try. It's brown, because I already have way too fucking many black eyeliners. I wear brown fairly often, because it's a little less harsh with my coloring than black.

First things first: make sure you store this tip down in a cup or something, because otherwise the tip will be dry when you go to use it. When you do use it, you'll have to apply a medium amount of pressure in order to get a dark, opaque line. I don't mean an uncomfortable amount of pressure, but more than you might use with a brush, for example. If you use a light touch, you will get a dark enough line on the first eye from whatever liquid has saturated the outer layers of the tip, but by the time you move on to your other eye, the tip will lose saturation, and you won't get it back even by leaving it sitting upside down for several minutes. You need to press a little harder to get stuff flowing.

With a light touch: okay on the first eye; very faint on the second eye.
The pen is easy to use, and the shape of the tip makes it easy easy to vary the thickness of the line you draw. The downside of this pen is that tip gets frayed easily. I've only used it a handful of times, and it's already getting a bit floppy and imprecise. You will have some slight smearing if you get it wet (no crying!), but otherwise it wears well. It doesn't bleed or crumble or anything like that. It's good. There's nothing about it that blows my mind, but it does the job.

Jordana INCOLOR Fabuliner Liquid Eyeliner Pen
 Jordana INCOLOR Fabuliner Liquid Eyeliner Pen (applied using medium pressure)

Free 2-day shipping from Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic today only + 30- 40% off

Disclosure: This post contains no affiliate links.
Part of me is saying, "No, you absolutely do not need any more clothing, and you don't have a job" and another part is saying, "Look, you're wearing the tank top you slept in last night right now; you could absolutely use a few cheap summer tops. And a pair of black flip flops." Which side will win? WHO KNOWS?

Use code FREE. There's also a 40% off Banana Republic code (BR40DAYS). They can be combined. Whoop.

I also got a "surprise" 30% off code from Old Navy in a banner at the top of the page when I loaded it, so look for that too. And you can use FIRE on the Gap's page to get 40% off today or 30% off tomorrow.